Last night was a momentous night here in Toronto â€“ Igor Kenk (yeah, that Igor) was arrested in connection withâ€¦ you guessed itâ€¦ a bike theft. Now,
Iâ€™m sure that at least some of Igorâ€™s reputation is a result of exaggeration and urban legend but there is no doubt that the guy actively and knowingly buys and sells stolen bikes. Funny; the Sun (of all papers!) was the first paper to give him a voice a couple of days ago and now are also the first ones reporting his arrest.
Shutting down the likes of Igor is a step in the right direction in reducing the amount of theft in the city but I donâ€™t think that we can count on the city or the police to do much of anything about it in the grand scheme of things – although admittedly the bait bike / sting that busted Igor was obviously effective.
Letâ€™s face it â€“ itâ€™s not that police officers donâ€™t care personally but dealing with bike theft on an individual basis is an overwhelming task. Itâ€™s not like they can put out an APB on an all black fixed gear they way they would on a raised camo truck with Rampage Jackson painted on the side.
Iâ€™ve heard of the police checking in at La Carerra to look for $6000 road bikes but generally speaking if your average bicycle gets stolen then youâ€™ll be told by the police that theyâ€™ll call you if it turns up. With few exceptions, if you donâ€™t catch the person on the street with your bike soon after it went missing, itâ€™s gonzo for good.
As for the city; a couple of years ago it was discovered that the city of Torontoâ€™s locking posts were easily defeated with a simple 2×4 and a little bit of leverage. In response the city started doubling up the rings but I donâ€™t know how far they got but very few (almost none) of the posts I see on a regular basis have the beefed up double ring. In fact, an embarrassingly large number of them donâ€™t even have one!
One of the largest reasons that bicycles are so amazing is because you can get around the city extremely quickly and efficiently but that is also one of the things that makes them so desirable to steal â€“ if you can get that bike away from itâ€™s lock or out of itâ€™s ownerâ€™s sight you can be gone in an instant and this city is so full of babies that are too afraid to do something when they seem someone obviously stealing a bike / components.
Iâ€™ve often wanted to set up a bait bike but I guess the question is; what do we do with the thieves once weâ€™ve caught them? Iâ€™ve always wanted to beat the living tar out of a bike thief but it would seem a lot more justified as a spur of the moment reaction to some dickwad with his hands all over my stuff as opposed to something so premeditated; I would presume that the fuzz would see it in the same way. The idea of setting up a brakeless freewheeled bike to look like a fixed gear and then chasing the would-be thief into traffic is also pretty appealing but I donâ€™t think Iâ€™d be able to shake the responsibility if the guy got seriously hurt or even killed.
The police estimate that somewhere in the neighborhood of 12,000 bikes go missing every year which doesnâ€™t even take into account the amount of components (seats, posts, wheels, etc.) that go missing. So, where are all these bikes / parts going? Itâ€™s unlikely that Igors or Uncle Jacobs could realistically move that kind of volume with the sort of public scrutiny they are under and I donâ€™t see all that many of the bikes that Iâ€™ve known of ending up on craigslist or ebay so where? Are people parting them out and riding them? Hiding them in their basements for a couple of years before selling? Taking vanloads to Montreal then loading up with MTL bikes to sell here? Where do they go?
More importantly, what are we supposed to do about it? I donâ€™t leave my bike outside if I can control it, use multiple locks when locking up for any amount of time, glue ballbearings into my allen heads / have considered switching over to torx heads, etc. but what we all know that those are all just deterrents â€“ a good thief can get through anything if they want your bike badly enough.
At the end of the day, the only thing you can do is lock your bike in visible areas with quality locks, make sure your components arenâ€™t easily removed and for christâ€™s sake â€“ if you see someone stealing someone elseâ€™s shit and are physically able to, DO something!
In a related note; here are just a few bikes that belong(ed) to folks I know that have gone missing in the last couple of weeks. If you see someone riding or selling them, kindly liberate their bikes for them.
Colin’s Langster (outdated)
Colin’s Langster (recent)
On the plus side – Colin lost two bikes (and parts / a pump) in a garage break-in but at least it allowed him to get this;
Also be on the look out for my friend Lyndsey‘s wheels that went missing earlier this week while she was out skating.
Front: Mavic 6xp33 (650) laced to Formula Track hub
Rear: Mavic DA22 (700) laced to Formula Track hub
In another related note; if youâ€™ve got a nice Brooks saddle, be sure to lock that shit down! Brooks theft in this city seems to be reaching epidemic proportions.